EU passes Belarus sanctions

Posted on: 21/06/2011

 

EU passes Belarus sanctions

The European Union passed a series of stringent sanctions against Belarus yesterday amid growing anger from the international community over the former Soviet republic's increasingly pariah status.
Scores of political opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko's regime have been imprisoned in what is one of the worst human rights crackdowns in recent memory.

Foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg agreed to a series of new sanctions against the regime, placing travel bans on key members of the judiciary and bringing in restrictions on three companies closely associated with Mr Lukashenko.
Ministers hope that the financial sanctions will pile pressure on Minsk at a time when Belarus' economy is rapidly failing as its currency reserves dry up.

The Independent understands that opposition to widespread sanctions came from Italy and Latvia, two countries with substantial business interests in Belarus. In the end, however, diplomats opted for the fullest set if sanctions that were available to them. It is now forbidden for any European country to trade with BelTechExport, the country's main arms manufacturer, as well as Sport Pari, which runs the country's lucrative lottery, and Private Unitary Enterprise a telecommunications company.

Western diplomats say Belarus earns more than 1.14bn annually in weapons sales, much of which goes into a secret fund controlled by the President. The vast majority of Belarusian arms sales, however, are to the developing world and it is unclear whether the new sanctions will have any effect on Mr Lukashenko's ability to raise capital.

 

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